The Lycée Times Newsfeed

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Choosing a Lycée or Collège

Dear Readers,

We are approaching the New Year and so I thought that it would be a good idea to help those who are about to start school late. You would be surprised by the number of ex-pats who actually start school in January. So here are some helpful tips on how to choose a Lycée or Collège.

In France, there are two types of schools:

  • The Private schools (Lycées Privés)
  • The Public schools

There is a difference between the two, however it is an on-going debate as to which is better.

Public schools Private schools
The public schools are government funded establishments Private schools don’t rely on the state for funding, however the curriculum has to be the same as the public school’s
These are more common in France and they’re not the same as what you would call a public school in the UK (Eton etc.) Private schools are rarer than public schools. These schools are the equivalent of public schools in the UK (Eton etc.)… welcome to France! Everything is the other way round!
These schools have no fees, although there are still books to be bought and canteen bills and so on These private schools can cost hundreds even thousands of euros a term, not counting books, canteen bills etc.
The public schools sometimes have the possibility of boarding Private schools almost always have the possibility of boarding. That is the case 99% of the time.
In public schools, the intellectual abilities of each student is respected. When you calculate the year average results for a Lycée and a Collège combined, you’ll usually find an average of around 10. This is normal. It doesn’t mean that it’s worse teaching, it’s just more realistic – Some students are better in science than others, and others in literature. Public schools sometimes have a SEGPA section – a learning difficulties class, for those who find learning a struggle. Students in private schools are expected to be the next Einstein or Steven Fry. Year average results are expected to exceed 16. There is a student in my class who moved to our Lycée (public) last year because her average of 16 wasn’t enough to get her through to 1ère. I would not recommend a private school to any expat who has little or no knowledge of French.
Public schools only took 7 of the top 20 places for “Best schools in France” for the school year of 2009. According to a government report, private Lycées dominated the results in 2009 for the best Lycées in France, taking 13 out of the top 20 places, and 62 places out of the top 100 Lycées.
The UNA pointed out in 2009 that 43% of state lycées professionnels have class sizes of at least 100 pupils. While UNA clearly have a point, pupils attending the lycées professionnels sit for a different type of baccalaureate examination than those in the general lycées, so their comparison is a slightly false one. Most general lycées do have larger class sizes than most private schools, but average around 35 pupils per class. The UNA pointed out that 15% of private lycées have less than 15 pupils per class and 30% less than 19 pupils. However, school results are expected to be much higher than Public Lycées’.

Around 65% of school pupils sat for the baccalaureate in the school year 2009. Over 300,000 pupils passed a “baccalauréat général” examination, 163,085 the “baccalauréat technologique” and 127,662 the “baccalauréat professionnel”.

The pass rate was 88.8% for the “baccalauréat général”, 79% for the “baccalauréat technologique” and 87% for the “baccalauréat professionnel”. These pass rates are increasing each year.

Despite the shortcomings of the figures, as Marie Duru-Bellat, a university professor of sociology at Sciences Po Paris commented to Le Monde: ‘The notion of value added is incontestably progress, to which other factors could be added… but to refuse to examine the differences between schools is ostrich politics.’

Article by The Editor

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